RightChange: Is Occupy Wall Street the Beginning of a Communist Movement?Tue, October 18, 2011
The underlying message of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests is an interesting one: the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans have put themselves on top by exploiting the other 99 percent. The current system in place allows them to enrich themselves by impoverishing humanity.
“This has to stop!
We must usher in an era of democratic and economic justice.
We must change, we must evolve.”
What began as a relatively small group of people camping in New York City has now spread to other cities in the U.S. and other countries around the world. As the protests continue, the movement has become increasingly organized, but it is still unclear how they plan to accomplish their goals. As we seek to understand this ever-changing movement, it is interesting to note that there are some striking similarities between message behind the “Occupy Wall Street” movement and the theories behind communism.
Whenever someone says the word “communism,” we immediately think about the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union. At its most basic level, communism is an ideology that seeks to create human equality by eliminating private property and market forces. But there is more to it than that. According to Karl Marx, the father of communist theory, it is more like a process that happens when the time is right. Here is a brief description of Marx’s theories on how a capitalist democracy falls and communism rises.
At the very core of Marx’s theory is the assumption that the world is properly understood in economic terms, and all human action follows from the relationship between the haves (the ruling class) and the have-nots (the working class). Behind this assumption is the idea of a “superstructure” – a system of institutions created essentially to justify and perpetuate the existing order. This “superstructure” is huge, and it represents all of our human institutions like politics, the state, national identity, culture, religion, and more. It’s a system of exploitation set in place to keep the haves having, and have-nots having not. But this superstructure is so ingrained in our daily lives that it can be very hard to see. Because of this, many of the people who are exploited by the superstructure of capitalism suffer from what Marx calls a “false consciousness.” They believe that they truly understand the world around them, but what they see is really only an illusion.
As a capitalist democracy continues to grow and develop, Marx believed that it would eventually be overthrown by its own internal flaws. For him, it would be the ideas of competition and the free market that eventually cause a capitalist democracy to fall.
Before a capitalist democracy falls, Marx explained that a few specific things would be seen. This is where we really begin to see the similarities between his theories and the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.
First, competition between firms would intensify, and the working class would undoubtedly find itself on the losing end of this process. With such intense competition, firms would be required to increase their use of technology and decrease their number of workers. Any firm that failed to do this would become uncompetitive, and would eventually go bankrupt.
Next, as more and more businesses go bankrupt, the number of people in the ruling class (the haves) would become increasingly smaller. The wealth of society would become concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and large monopolies would come to dominate the economy.
Finally, the wages of the working class would decline in the face of such intense competition. With such a large increase in the use of technology, human labor becomes obsolete. The use of technology reduces the number of human workers needed, and the ranks of the unemployed would swell.
This is a crucial point. With such widespread inequality, the working class begins to “gain consciousness.” They begin to realize that the true source of their poverty and despair has come as a result of the superstructure imposed by capitalism. They begin to see that the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. Tension builds between the haves and the have-nots, and the revolution to seize control of the state and the economy begins.
Perhaps one of the most important parts of Marx’s theory is that this process would start only in the countries where capitalism was most established, and then quickly spread to all other capitalist democracies. This domino effect would essential wipe out capitalism across the globe, and the superstructure that produced so much inequality for so long would be gone forever.
Now, we are not saying that Occupy Wall Street is a communist movement or revolution, but the similarities between the two are alarming. As the wealth of the world has become increasingly concentrated in fewer hands (the 1 percent), the have-nots (the 99 percent) have become increasingly agitated. America itself is slowly becoming less and less competitive in the global economy. There has been widespread lay-offs and job loss, and unemployment has grown significantly.
Marx would say that the 99 percent is now “gaining consciousness,” and the Occupy Wall Street movement is the beginning of their revolution. Moreover, much like Marx theorized, the movement is sweeping across the globe like wildfire.
This is the most alarming aspect of the entire movement. Many of the ideas and values that unite these protesters fall directly in line with the values of communism. A recent poll of the protesters, conducted by the Wall Street Journal, found:
“What binds a large majority of the protesters together—regardless of age, socioeconomic status or education—is a deep commitment to left-wing policies: opposition to free-market capitalism and support for radical redistribution of wealth, intense regulation of the private sector, and protectionist policies to keep American jobs from going overseas.”
To make matters worse, these ideas and values are spreading around the country and the world like a swarm of locusts, threatening our very way of life. These are not the values that made America the most powerful nation in the world, but they are most definitely the kinds of values that could destroy it.
We have already seen these Communist values begin to deteriorate our country. The reason we have almost 50% of the country not paying taxes is because our government believes we should redistribute the wealth. That means that almost half of the people in this country are dependent upon the other half to provide for them. The reason we have high unemployment is because we have taken away half of the wealth i.e. investment from those who create jobs and given it to those that do not.
The reason we have some of the highest foreclosure rates right now is because the government believed it was every person’s right to own private property regardless of whether or not he could afford it. That is why the government allowed Fannie and Freddie to write mortgage loans to millions of people who couldn’t pay them. The new homeowners walked out on their loans, didn’t pay them, and Fannie & Freddie got a huge taxpayer bailout.
The reason small businesses and corporations aren’t hiring is because the government already believes they should be regulated so intensely, that they spend more time complying with the regulations than finding ways to expand their businesses. Now they are gearing up to comply with one of the biggest regulations of them all because our government believes everyone should have a right to healthcare.
The reason we have the highest rate of Americans on food stamps (45,753,078 million people) is because our government believes every American has a moral obligation to feed those who can’t feed themselves. This is why the money from just 50% of taxpayers is used it to pay for one of the most costly programs in our budget: Welfare. Despite the OWS criticism against that wealthy Americans are greedy, the majority of them actually believe in helping people get back on their feet. Their largest criticism of this program is not that we shouldn’t help those in need, but that we should not keep those in need from depending on the government forever.
Capitalism fosters competitiveness; competitiveness fosters innovation; and innovation fosters greatness. Communism, on the other hand, has shown time and time again to foster mediocrity and failure.
As we approach another election year, it is crucial that we select a leader that can restore America to its former greatness and restore our confidence in capitalism. It is crucial that we put America back to work, and it is crucial that we restore our place in the global economy.
We must continue to strive to be better than the rest, and we desperately need a president who will push us along that path. We need a president who will actually deliver on his promise to bring change. Obama has done none of the above. We cannot expect him to be the strong leader that we so desperately need in the next term.
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